ASI Taulava admitted receiving feelers from other teams, but the ageless man-mountain said he is focused on negotiations with NLEX before he looks at other options.
Already the oldest player in the league at 41, Taulava remains a hot commodity in the free-agent market due to a dearth of quality big men and an outstanding season with Air21 that saw him average 14.75 points and 12.38 rebounds per game last season.
The 2003 league MVP and Mythical Team member last season is currently deep in talks with his new team NLEX Warriors, who acquired the Air21 Express franchise through a sale last month.
Taulava did not hide the fact that he has been receiving feelers from teams which are looking to get big men from the free agent market, especially with the rookie draft pool looking to be thin in quality big men.
“I can say there are always feelers. Offers here and there. But I am not yet at the point of entertaining them because I respect my existing contract with NLEX and we are still talking,” Taulava told Spin.ph from San Francisco, California, where he is on a vacation with his family until Friday.
A source has earlier told Spin.ph that former commissioner Noli Eala, acting on behalf of San Miguel corp., is one of those ready to tender Taulava an offer sheet once his contract expires on August 31.
Taulava, meanwhile, did not confirm nor deny the report when asked on Monday night.
“I promised NLEX that I will talk to them. I want to show some loyalty to boss Ronald (Dulatre, NLEX team manager). He’s been great in negotiation. I told him my focus is to work with him first,” he said.
“But if it (negotiation) falls apart, I told him that’s the only time I will talk to other teams. We are just working out some kinks before everything is fine and dandy, I’ll sign the contract. If not, we’ll see the other side of the coin,” added the eloquent big man.
Taulava should come as an important piece in NLEX’s bid to form a competitive team.
“I can’t say that I will be important (in the NLEX lineup). But yeah, I got a height and experience to share to them, plus I can be a good leader to their young guys,” he said.
Asked if at the age of 42 he is starting to slow down, Taulava was quick to say no.
“The Rock ain’t done yet!” says the 245-pound banger who never misses his training and plyometrics even during his US vacation.
See video of Taulava's training session in the US:
Taulava even shared to Spin.ph his new motivation following a season where he redeemed himself and gave San Miguel Beer's June Mar Fajardo a tough challenge in the MVP race.
“I am hungry. I want to build on what I did last season. Nobody gave me a chance. They thought I was a fluke when I went to the ABL and had a season there that helped San Miguel win the championship,” he said.
“They thought me returning back to the PBA, they thought I was too old and I wouldn’t be able to compete with the younger guys. But I proved them wrong.
“I am getting my body ready. I am now putting some more extra work. i want to do better than what I did last conference. Not just being a contender for best player of the conference or MVP, I want to win a championship,” he said.
“So (win a) championship now and let the rest fall into place. My motivation last season was to prove everybody wrong. I had a chip off my shoulders. I wanted to compete against these younger guys and being the oldest guy in the PBA, I still have it in me. And I was able to prove myself,” said Taulava.
“My motivation is even bigger now.”